Thoughts on Vegetarianism for Students

What is vegetarianism? Vegetarianism is the practice of consuming only vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, and sometimes eggs or dairy products (according to Merriam-Webster). There are many types of vegetarians, and a few are listed below:

  • Total Vegetarians: Classically they consume only plant foods. What they eat doesn’t include milk, eggs, or other animal products.
  • Lacto-Vegetarians: Dairy products ARE included in the diets of these vegetarians.
  • Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarians: These vegetarians eat mostly plant foods but also include eggs and dairy in their diets.
  • Pesce-Vegetarians: While plant foods still make up most of these vegetarians’ diet, they also consume fish.
  • Pollo-Vegetarians: These vegetarians consume plant foods and poultry foods (like chicken, turkey, or duck).
  • Vegans: This final type of vegetarian eats only plant foods and does not purchase or use any animal derived products, like leather shoes or a silk scarf.

There are many reasons to start a vegetarian diet, whether they are related to health, religion, ethics, or some other reason. Some people don’t even follow full vegetarian diets but try to have semi-vegetarian diets by eating some meat-free meals during the week. During WWI, the government started the idea of “Meatless Mondays” in which US citizens were encouraged to skip eating meat on Mondays to help war efforts. This idea was revived in 2003 and supported by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for a Livable Future. Planning just one meat-free meal during the week can be good for your health, the environment, and your wallet. Just a thought, buying a can of beans can be far less expensive than buying a whole pound of ground beef!

Overall, a health conscious vegetarian diet is filled with more fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and folate than a meat-filled diet. The vegetarian diet does not include as much cholesterol, saturated fat or overall calories. As a result, vegetarians are less at risk to develop cancer, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, or obesity.

More information about vegetarianism can be found under the Students with Specific Dietary Needs section of the blog. It is helpful for those on a vegetarian diet because it lists a few reminders of how to stay healthy as well as some ideas for vegetarian meals in the Virginia Tech Dining Centers.

Resources:

Article on Vegetarian Child and Adolescent Health: Amit, M. “Vegetarian diets in children and adolescents.” Paediatric Child Health 15.5 (2010): 303-308. Website.

Meatless Monday

Merriam Webster’s Definition of Vegetarian

Michigan State University: More information on Vegetarians

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Savvy Vegetarian

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